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VPN vs. Proxy – The Tools that Safeguard our Privacy

VPN vs. Proxy
Author: Arsalan Jabbar Category: Blog


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Prologue

There are diverse concerns we face today in this digital universe, some are related to our privacy where as others represent censorship policies and geo-restrictions imposed. Cumulatively, these concerns victimize our online liberty and freedom. Every day we face a new foe. Cybercriminals at every corner of this digital world are waiting for an opportune moment to strike. In addition, we have to live with the fear that our online activities are under surveillance.

In the midst of all this chaos, if we manage to find peace by any chance, censorship and geo-restrictions come to haunt us. Time taught us how to cope with these concerns. In time, we learned that in order to take back what is rightfully ours (privacy) we will have to take a stand. And to serve this cause, we are facilitated by different tools; but, proxies and VPNs are the most effective and widely accepted.

People often confuse functions and benefits of a VPN with a proxy. Nevertheless, a VPN and proxy can be contrasted in several ways. In fact, people must adopt aforementioned tools in compliance with the issues encountered. In this article, I will compare and contrast features and benefits associated with a VPN and proxy so that you can select the right tool as per the nature of issues encountered.

 

VPN vs. Proxy

VPN and Proxy are the tools we use today to facilitate our online freedom and fight censorship. These tools also enable us to break through any geo-restriction prohibiting our access to the content we wish to seek. Despite of a few common similarities, VPN and Proxy can be contrasted by many differences.

Usually, the objective of users to prefer a VPN or a Proxy is to conceal their identity. The use of a VPN however is much more sophisticated; hence, it can’t be considered as an alternative to proxy. There are many other benefits associated with the use of a VPN except hiding user’s identity and bypassing geo-restrictions.

The security offered by a VPN is no match to that of a Proxy. A VPN operates through a complex mechanism. A VPN forms a secure network for our data to travel. This network is formed by supporting different tunneling protocols. Furthermore, a VPN represents features like data encryption and takes our security to the whole new level. Yet, users are often confused to differentiate a proxy and a VPN.

In this post, we will try to contrast the characteristics of a VPN and proxy. You have numerous options to choose an efficient VPN or a proxy. However, the selection of any tool must be in compliance with the user’s needs and requirements. Bypassing geo-restrictions and censorship concerns can be coped easily with a proxy; but, if you need privacy and security along the road then we suggest you use a VPN.

 

Proxy

Proxy is one of the most commonly used tools to unblock websites and access restricted content. A proxy serves the purpose with assistance of its server that forms a bridge between the user and the Internet. The proxy server masks your real IP with that of the server’s. This is the reason you bypass all the restrictions imposed on content.

In fact, the bridge formed by proxy server carries your request through the path and routes the traffic as requested. Since your IP has been masked, censorship restrictions imposed by your locality won’t affect you anymore.

Furthermore, using the IP of a particular locality like the US, you can unblock all geo-restricted sites and content such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Pandora etc. HTTP and SOCKS are the protocols used by proxy servers to create a bridge between your computer and the Internet. These protocols are the mechanisms facilitating the functions of a proxy.

HTTP protocols usually facilitate a proxy’s function to unblock web pages and websites. This protocol handles HTTP and SHTTP requests and facilitates liberated Internet surfing experience. On the other hand, SOCKS protocol isn’t concerned with the network traffic. SOCKS protocol facilitates Internet traffic and allows you to access things you are not allowed to. SOCKS protocols facilitate diverse processes but the most likeable among all from user’s perspective are file sharing, uploading, downloading and torrenting without any hassle.

 

Advantages of a Proxy

There are many advantages of using a proxy; but, the most important of them all are listed in this post.

  • A proxy is either cheap or represents no cost at all. This means that you can unblock anything you want in exchange of not even a single penny.
  • A proxy hides your real IP and somehow masks it with the one representing the proxy server. This enables you to access content restricted to a particular locality and allows you to cope with censorship.
  • With a proxy, you can share, upload, download and torrent without the fear of any restriction or copyright infringement concern.

 

Disadvantages of a Proxy

Despite the advantages stated earlier, there are many disadvantages associated with a proxy; nonetheless, this post will only prescribe the most crucial flaws.

  • Used only to access blocked websites
  • Doesn’t work all the time
  • Free version can flood your browser tabs with unnecessary promotions
  • Proxy fails to hide your identity completely; hence, your IP can still be visible to some websites.
  • Unlike a VPN, proxy doesn’t facilitate your security because the encryption level representing proxy isn’t good enough.
  • In order to use a proxy on a different browser, you will have to manually configure it and the process goes on every time you change a browser.

 

VPN

A VPN is much more sophisticated tool than a proxy. A VPN not only facilitates you to bypass geo-restrictions and cope with censorship concerns but it also promotes your security and anonymity. A VPN also requires certain protocols to formulate a virtual tunnel between your device and the server. These protocols are much more secure than the ones supported by proxy.

There are different protocols a VPN uses to form the tunnel such as PPTP (point-to-point tunneling protocol), L2TP (layer-to-tunneling protocol), SSTP (secure socket tunneling protocol), SSL (secure socket layer), SSH (secure shell) and OpenVPN etc. A VPN protects all of your data through different encryption levels ranging from 128bit to 2048bit.

Unlike a proxy, VPN’s work isn’t confined to unblock websites only. With a VPN you can bypass all geo-restrictions and cope with censorship issues. With a VPN, you don’t need to worry about cybercriminals or surveillance agencies. Once you have connected a VPN on your device, it will work like your digital camouflage. You will become absolutely anonymous as your IP is hidden and completely untraceable. In addition to these perks, a VPN does whatever a proxy can. In fact, a VPN does it better than the proxy.

 

Advantages of a VPN

There are many advantages associated with a VPN but this post will enlighten the most significant of them.

  • A VPN allows you to bypass all geo-restrictions and cope with the censorship concerns.
  • With a VPN you can hide your real IP and make yourself undiscoverable on the Internet.
  • Say goodbye to the fear of online surveillance with a VPN.
  • Acknowledge the new level of security with sophisticated protocols offered by your VPN service provider.
  • A VPN promises outstanding data security by providing different levels of encryption ranging from 128to 2048bit.
  • With a VPN, you can share, upload, download and torrent without any restriction or fear.

 

Disadvantages of a VPN

  • It comes with a cost.

 

Conclusion

In the end, it can be concluded that proxy and VPN are the most exceptional tools that can be used to promote online freedom and liberty. These tools are the arsenal we have to counter censorship policies and geo-restrictions. Nevertheless, when it comes to security, VPN proves itself to be far better than a proxy. Nowadays, one shouldn’t only be concerned about the restrictions imposed on content but his privacy and security as well. If we need to beat cyber criminals and the NSA then a VPN can be a better alternative as compared to proxy.

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Arsalan Jabbar is a tech-research enthusiast who wants to explore technological obsolescence and its generic influence. With a little spice of wit in his writing style, Arsalan fanatically researches contemporary discoveries in the IT industry and critiques their significance in his own special way. Arsalan’s hypotheses are always reflected through in-depth scrutiny and valid notions. Besides his unconditional love for technology and his gaming console, Arsalan is a fitness-freak – always up for a fight against those wicked calories.



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